The Anthropocene discourse is filled with theories of its advent—the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Industrial Revolution, modern agricultural practices, and all of these are researched and theorized with Anthropocentrism at their crux. Anthropocentrism and anthroponormativity are not innate human qualities but are rather abstract frameworks that have been the topic of discourse for centuries. Although they are characteristics of humanity’s space within the world, they are only one of many possible representations of reality. This thesis attempts to analyze the basis of those theories more critically, thereby aligning itself with another theory that places the beginnings of Settler Colonialism in the 16th and 17th century as the anthropogenic interventions in the Earth’s geologic record that directly led to the capitalist systems of oppression that are the dominant forces governing the planet today.
This theory criticizes the universality claim of the other theories by citing indigenous populations and other colonized communities that lived and still live in a de-centered state, in acceptance that anthropocentric reality is in no way the planetary reality. Colonial practices led to the creation of binary identities and the separation of the “other” from the “standard.” Such othering has separated not only humans and non-humans but has also resulted in essentialist categories within humans themselves, giving birth to racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination. Othering is understood as a means of preservation of human space and human technology, which is achieved through practices such as war, deforestation, mining.
With this un-privileging of origin stories, this thesis calls queers the notions of progress and modernity that govern the Anthropocene. By building things through diverse engineering, without contemplation of what “it should be,” the scavengers follow the principles of “Jugaad”- an Indian concept with the closest translation being “making do” or “frugal innovation.”
Anthroponormative actions have been shown to be entangled with the othered entities and forces of the planet, resulting in a climatological crisis where negative effects are temporally and spatially separated from their human causes, and therefore fall outside the human frame of reference. The technological tools that capitalist humanity has used to preserve the standard anthropocentric space have been instrumental in putting that same space in crisis.
While this Vellum entry was always meant to be furniture for the competition, it was created with the principle of Jugaad. The steering wheel was not concerned with the search for original instrumentality. It afforded sitting, so it was sat on. This method is intended to clear a space for
the development of multiple alternative
narratives and to examine the way
this diversity of narratives informs
the structure of this society's
life around the interpreted
meanings of the abandoned
The Anthropocene is a gentrifying term. As Zoe Todd mentions in Indigenizing the Anthropocene, “The complex and paradoxical experiences of diverse people as humans-in-the-world, including the ongoing damage of colonial and imperialist agendas, can be lost when the narrative is collapsed to a universalisizing species paradigm.” When bodies are standardized, their expected behaviours are standardized as well. This image is attempting to challenge the accepted “rituals” of childbirth. When every person giving birth experiences it in different ways, why is the universalized horizontal bed the space of that experience?
multiplicities rejecting universalities
The image shows a pregnant person in a contraption that is engineered by the scavengers to have free movement to allow for the pregnant body to position itself the way it needs to. The person in the back is manually aiding pushing using a resistance-based mechanism that allows them to push using their legs. The tube at the top of the mechanism holds water that trickles down the tubes and wets the attached fabric, keeping the pregnant person’s body temperature low. The baby slides down the tube into a pool as it leaves the body. These images have borrowed elements from indigenous birthing practices of being somewhat vertical while giving birth and the Nilotic tribe practice of assisted pushing.
This world is characterized by multiplicities, it is built on intersectionality. As it attempts to blur the binaries between humans, nonhumans, nature and technologies, that intersectionality is attributed to all those beings. Therefore, these images are a manifestation of that. The same contraption that was used as a birthing mechanism, is utilized as a watering hold for a small bird and a possible hunting ground for the hawk watching it. It also becomes a mechanism to build food, as in the image below. The resistance mechanism used by the person to aid pushing now becomes a collection spot that can push compressed food out throught the holes that held the pregnant person’s body. The leg holders hold a fabric filled with herb water that drips over the food bundles as they roll down the slide the baby slid down on, into the same pool. One being or one action doesn’t hold privilege over the other, and the nuanced sentiments attached to actions are questioned.
The Anthropocene is an aesthetic event, therefore, queering it requires a, “re-ordering of our biological perception under the Anthropocene,” as Amanda Boetzkes argues. This means that the ways in which we perceive time, catastrophe, loss, shifts. To be able to conceptualize this, this thesis turns to Indigenous knowledges and epistemologies. Time remains crucial in how we perceive the world. Indigenous communities view time as a cyclical mechanism, where the past exists simultaneously in the present, simulating a future. This allows them to perceive death and birth as gears in the larger scope of things. Within Western thought, Individuality is privileged and time is linear. One lifetime is marked by birth and death and there are specified emotions attached to those concepts. If the concept of Individuality is de-centered, then temporalities shift.
This image is an attempt to question the temporalities of a life. In the first hole on the left, a person is relaxing, and communicating with the person who is layering food in the second hole. The third hole holds bodies that are no longer alive. It remains irrelevant if they were buried at the same time or years apart, because the past is simultaneously the future, and the end of the day, they will become compost for something else to grow from. The fourth hole holds an ostrich sitting on her eggs, waiting for her babies to become alive.
This representation is an attempt to question the esoteric behaviours attached to handling death and all that a death seems to demand. If decentering occurs, is death sacred?